Taal Lake & Volcano – Talisay, Batangas, Philippines
There are twenty four active volcanoes in the Philippines and Taal Volcano is one of the most active. Although small, it is the most dangerous volcano in the Philippines. Because it is so close to major populated areas, it is extensively monitored and studied by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHILVOCS). Taal Volcano is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire where much of the world’s earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur.
Located on the island of Luzon in the province of Batangas, it is about 30 miles south of Manila as the crow flies. Viewed from the Tagaytay Ridge, in the province of Cavite, it is one of the most picturesque views in the Philippines. The Peoples Park in the Sky, originally known as Palace in the Sky, is one spot where you can see beautiful panoramic view of Taal Volcano and its surrounding landscapes. That is, if the sky sky is clear.
If you are in Tagaytay and have more time to explore, you can get close and personal with the lake and volcano by following a meandering road from Tagaytay Rotunda down to Talisay. The town of Talisay is a municipality of Batangas Province and occupies the northern shore of the lake. The meandering Tagaytay-Talisay Road goes all the way down to the lake, a narrow and steep road so careful driving is a must.
TAAL LAKE (CALDERA)
The Taal Lake, once called Bombón Lake, encompassing close to 150 square miles, is a large crater formed by the original prehistoric volcanic eruption between 500,000 and 100,000 years ago. Since the area has been occupied, some subsequent eruptions buried some lakeside towns which can be seen under the lake's waters.
The lake, which is 103 square miles and about 9 feet above sea level, was once connected to the sea, at the Balayan Bay. But after several eruptions in the 18th century, the Pansipit River is the only outlet from the lake. The Pansipit River, running southwest of the lake, used to be navigable by ship, but after more eruptions, the river was blocked by volcanic material and the level of the lake rose. Several centuries of precipitation diluted the lake's saline water into fresh water; endemic species have evolved and adapted in the lake such as the "tawilis fish". These days, fishing pens are all over the lake raising tilapia. A massive "fish kill" happened in the lake in 2011 due to toxic sulfur, a high level of hydrogen sulfide and a sudden drop of oxygen level.
The caldera (Taal Lake) formed as a result of one major eruption. Since then subsequent eruptions occured creating the Volcano Island, a 3 miles (5 km) wide island within the caldera. All recorded eruptions came from Volcano Island.
Taal volcano produced some of the most historic eruptions. The first recorded eruption, centered at the main crater, was in 1572, since the old town of Taal was founded by the Friars during the Spanish occupation. It erupted 33 times since then (not including the 2020 eruption). The biggest eruption recorded was in 1754 which lasted for seven months, burying four towns nearby.
Mount Tabaro, the highest point on Volcano Island, on the southwestern side, is the only crater that spilled lava. This is where several eruptions happened (from 1965 to 1977). Taal Volcano remained somewhat quiet since then until the recent eruption.
MAIN CRATER LAKE
In the center of Volcano Island is the Main Crater Lake, a caldera with blue-green water which you can see by riding a boat to the island and then hiking to the lake. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time that day to hike to the lake, so we just took a boat to the shore of the island and back. That is one opportunity that we missed. Within this crater lake is a small island protruding from the water, a rocky remnant of an old crater floor called Vulcan Point.
However, according to recent satellite views, the water of the Main Crater Lake seems to have disappeared after the eruption of 2020. The caldera lies at the intersection of major faults and great changes happen after every eruption.
BININTIANG MALAKI ( BIG LEG)
From the shore of Taal Lake, the prominent feature of the Volcano Island is the Binintiang Malaki or Big Leg, a perfect shaped dormant cone located at the tip of the island. The 862 foot (263-m) cone is the largest of the flank cones on Volcano Island, formed during an eruption in 1707. An isthmus connected it to the island.
Due to recent January 12, 2020 eruption, coming here is prohibited until Taal Volcano settles down. For how long? That is up to nature to decide. In time, nature and people will bounce back.